San Diego

Judge Denies Changes to Strip Club

An Assistant City Attorney asked a judge Friday to order Cheetah's All Nude Gentleman's Club to restrict dancing to only certain areas inside the business to cut back on violations of the city's "No touch" rule.

The San Diego Superior Court Judge denied that request, citing First Amendment concerns.

Dan Gilleon, an attorney for the strip club, said the city sought the order as retaliation against the business, which is involved in a lawsuit against the city.

San Diego yanked the business license for Cheetah's last year.

The business says it's only because they have filed a lawsuit against the city after a March 2014 raid involving some 30 exotic dancers.

The dancers said they felt humiliated and improperly photographed. The San Diego Police Department said they were ensuring the dancers were licensed and documenting tattoos, as a necessary step in identifying the employees.

The city's motion says the business constantly violates the municipal code. Those rules are known as the "no touch rule", the "six foot rule," and the "no fondling rule," according to court papers. 

A judge ruled that the city cannot ban dancing in certain areas of the club particularly because of the First Amendment issues involved in the civil case, such as prior restraint, or the act of trying to censor expression before that expression occurs.

Gilleon, the attorney for the club, says SDPD's focus on this one club is strange.

"Because they're literally spending money getting lap dances. I mean that's really what's going on. They're buying booze. They're partying, and that's not what law enforcement is about," Gilleon said. "I think the City Council should know more about (the lawsuit) and look into it and say, 'Is this really where our money should go?' And I think if you ask most people, this is not where we want our money spent." 

The City Attorney's office released the following statement about the lawsuit:

“Cheetahs’ permit has been revoked by an Administrative Hearing Officer for repeated violations of the Municipal Code. That revocation was stayed when Cheetahs filed for review in Superior Court via a Writ.

“Cheetahs has a long history of violations with the City going back at least to 2003, when it was at the center of a major corruption scandal. In the past two years, Cheetahs employees have rung up more than 100 violations of the San Diego Municipal Code prohibitions against close contact, touching and fondling. One employee was arrested for prostitution. Cheetahs adult-entertainment permit was suspended in 2013 and revoked in 2014, and its owner has paid a $20,000 fine.

“Every nude entertainment establishment in San Diego is regulated and inspected per the Municipal Code. Cheetahs is alone in sustaining these high levels of illegal activity. ”-- John Hemmerling, Chief Deputy City Attorney

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